Nigeria Acting President Goodluck Jonathan to Make Major US Speech at Launch of the Atlantic Council’s Ansari Africa Center

Nigerian Acting President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday will officially open the Atlantic Council’s new Michael S. Ansari Africa Center with a major policy address focused on his fight against corruption and promoting good governance.  His speech will begin at 3:30 p.m. at Washington, D.C.’s Willard Hotel.

Acting President Jonathan, speaking at the end of his Washington visit for President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit, took over leadership of Africa’s most populous country in February when the Nigerian Senate confirmed his role as acting head of state due to President Umaru Yar’Adua’s continuing illness and medical treatment.  After his surprise rise to power, President Jonathan has fought corruption, has called for clean 2011 elections, and is looking to sustain an August 2009 amnesty to Niger Delta militias that he negotiated as vice president.
“No country’s stability is of greater importance to American interests on the continent than that of Nigeria,” said Frederick Kempe, President of the Atlantic Council. “The increased attention the Obama administration has paid to Nigeria underscores its political and economic importance – but also demonstrates growing concerns regarding the country’s future.”  President Obama met with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan at Blair House on Sunday. 

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the U.S.-Nigerian relationship “absolutely critical” while signing an agreement establishing a bi-national commission with a country that is one of the world’s top energy producers, providing 8% of U.S. oil supplies. The commission will work on good governance and stability in the energy rich Niger Delta.  As Clinton noted at the signing ceremony, “Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, its largest contributor of peacekeepers, a significant trading partner for the United States, its largest producer of oil, and the largest recipient of direct investment by the American private sector in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Acting President Jonathan’s address marks the official launch of the Ansari Africa Center, which was founded to promote African security and prosperity in partnership with African and European allies.  “Our focus will be on issues of political and economic stability that this inaugural event represents,” says Dr. Nancy J. Walker, the center’s director and previous founder of the Pentagon’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Michael S. Ansari, Chairman of MIC Industries and the founder of the center, says, “African voices are not heard enough in Washington. It is our mission to create an action and results-oriented center to bring about desired outcomes.”  

The Atlantic Council seeks to renew the Atlantic community for global challenges through constructive U.S.-European leadership and engagement in world affairs. Led by Senator Chuck Hagel, chairman, and Frederick Kempe, president and CEO, the Council embodies a network of policy, academic and business leaders who foster transatlantic ties through non-partisan and cross-national discussions and studies.